Verses from Al-Hijr (24-27)

[24] And, surely, to Us are known those who preceded you, and those who will follow.25


25. “The term ‘Shi`ah’ denotes a distinct group of people having in common the same persuasion or adhering to the same principles of behaviour, and is sometimes (though not here) used in the sense of ‘sect’” (Asad).

Yusuf Ali offers another, more subtle, understanding in words that the modern day Muslim preachers could place on their desks in bold letters, as should also the non-believing thinkers, philosophers, social workers and all those to whom this life is a baffling assembly of unconnected truths: “Mankind sees fragments of Truth at a time, and is apt to fall into fragments and divisions. All true messengers of Allah come to reconcile these fragments or divisions, for they preach the true Gospels of Unity.”

In other words, Prophet Muhammad offered an organized whole that integrates the parts that mankind see on their own, but are not able to make much of, not knowing their place in a workable system. Nor do they know their quantitative values, or results of their interactions: factors without which the data cannot be used for constructing a harmonized working system. The following illustration might help. A well-designed, efficient system runs a large manufacturing industry. An outsider sees a few cards, stationary, charts and graphs, and observes some people at work in various departments. He appreciates the functional beauty of the charts and data, and the efficiency of the men. But, does he understand the system that brings the end-product neatly packed at one end, after the raw material was fed at another? Can he ever formulate the system with the help of those cards, stationary and charts alone? Or, from observation of men at work? Modern man has a million pieces of fragmented truths that he presumes he can assemble to yield a meaningful shape. But time and again he fails. Beyond that, he thinks if he had all the bits and pieces of data, he could also come up with the same results as the Messenger of Allah produced. From the start he is doomed to fail. Reductionism (the principle that to understand something it must be broken down into its component parts) is considered as a tool that can work this wonder. But reductionism might work very well in the physical world, and help in successfully unraveling physical laws. But it can never succeed in generating a system that can so govern life as to produce good individuals, and a peaceful world (Au.).

[25] Surely, your Lord will gather them together. He is indeed All-wise, All-knowing.

[26] We created man from a clay26 of (stinking) transmuted slime.27


26. The textual word “salsal” is used for dried clay that has not been fired in the oven. When knocked, it emits sound. (After it is fired, it is known as “fakhkhar” – Zamakhshari). Ibn ‘Abbas has said that man was made from three elements: (i) an unadulterated sticking clay (al-tin al-lazib), (ii) the kind of clay from which pottery is made (salsal), and (iii) a mud which has some sludge in it (hama’ masnun). Some others have said that “salsal” is a clay that stinks (Ibn Jarir).

27.Hama’” (sing.: ham`atun) of the textual “hama’i’masnun” is for dark wet clay. “Masnun” has several connotations: (i) fetid, putrid, stinking, (ii) changed, altered, [or transmuted, as Asad put it], (iii) fashioned, patterned, shaped, etc. (Ibn Jarir); as well as (iv) smooth (Ibn Kathir). In short, the process was something like this: to begin with, it was dust (turab) composed of various elements. Then it was wetted. It became adhesive clay (tin). Then it was left to itself until it became (transmuted) putrid slime (hama’i’masnun). Finally, it was left to dry and it became “salsal” (Qurtubi).


Qur’anic verses are unambiguous about creation of Man at Allah’s Hand. A hadith says that when Allah (swt) blew the spirit into Adam (asws), the first thing that happened to him was that he sneezed. Thus, we are left in no doubt about the creation: he was human in the complete sense. But science has other theories. We propose to demonstrate here that those theories do not rest on solid ground.

Firstly, science has not one, rather several theories about the origin of life. But, although every theory is supported with evidences, they all lack credibility because they do not explain the process fully. In addition, every theory raises a few questions for which there are no satisfactory answers. In any case, before looking into the question of the origin of life, we need to first determine what life is. Or, to be more specific, what according to the non-Muslim mind, life is? Encyclopedia Britannica (Macropedia) states under the article on ‘Life’ that: “There is no generally accepted definition of life.” Then it goes on to define it in five ways.

“Physiological: For many years a physiological definition of life was popular. Life was defined as any system capable of performing a number of such functions as eating, metabolizing, excreting, breathing, moving, growing, reproducing and being responsive to external stimuli. But many such properties are either present in machines that nobody is willing to call alive, or absent from organisms that everybody is willing to call alive.”

“Metabolic: It describes a living object as an object with definite boundary, continually exchanging some of its materials with its surroundings, but without altering its general properties, at least over some period of time. But again there are exceptions. There are seeds and spores that remain, so far as is known, perfectly dormant and totally without metabolic activity at low temperatures for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years but that can revive perfectly well upon being subjected to more clement conditions.”

“Biochemical: A biochemical or molecular biological definition sees living organisms as systems that contain reproductive hereditary information coded in nucleic acid molecules and that metabolize by controlling the rate of chemical reactions … In many respects this is more satisfying .. (but) .. there are, even here, hints of counter examples.”

“Genetic: A genetic definition of life would be: a system capable of evolution by natural selection.”

“Thermodynamic: (According to this), Living systems might be defined as localized regions where there is a continuous increase in disorder.”

The variety in definitions should tell us something about the confusion. It stems from refusal to recognize the soul as the life-giving property. That results in the inability to differentiate between different kinds of lives: higher and lower, human and non-human. The recognition would have led them to a proper definition of life.

Mystery also surrounds the question regarding the origin of life. There is no satisfactory explanation as to how it arose. There are several hypotheses. To quote Britannica again:

“1. The origin of life is a result of a supernatural event: that is, one permanently beyond the descriptive powers of physics and chemistry.

2. Life – particularly the simple form – spontaneously and readily arises from nonliving matter in short periods of time, today as in the past.

3. Life is co-eternal with matter and has no beginning; life arrived on the Earth at the time of the origin of the earth or shortly thereafter.

4. Life arose on the early earth by a series of progressive chemical reactions requiring highly improbable chemical reactions. Such reactions may have been likely or may have required one or more highly improbable chemical events” (Encyclopedia Britannica, art.: ‘Life’).

In view of the failure to ascertain the origin of life, confusion prevails in every department of biological science. To be sure, there are many scientists who would rather avoid discussing the question altogether. Darwin too showed his frustration, and tried to dismiss the question by saying: “It is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter.” This of course is a defeatist attitude. The question will not go away by such means.

Attempts at explanation, therefore, go on. Some say that “life is written into the laws of nature.” That is, it is in the fitness of things that life should originate and evolve. Obviously, by the use of words “laws of nature,” the scientists avoid any reference to a Supernatural Being who originated it. They would rather have us believe: “nature did it.” And nature is nobody! It is not surprising, therefore, that a recent scientific work called “Our Place in the Cosmos,” (by Fred Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, Phoenix pub. 1996) has the first chapter entitled, “On the tendency of human societies to depart indefinitely from the objective of truth!”).

Nevertheless, since the question persists, there are a few fresh conjectures. In the words of a scientist: “It now appears that the first organisms lived deep underground, entombed within geothermally heated rocks in pressure-cooker conditions. Only later did they migrate to the surface. Astonishingly, descendants of these primordial microbes are still there, kilometers beneath our feet.” (Paul Davies, “The 5th Miracle”, Preface, Touchstone Books, 1999).

Yet others believe life came from Mars. Examination of meteorites on the earth, presumably of Martian origin, has led to the discovery of traces of “remnants” of microbes (and not microbes themselves). Some scientists believe life evolved twice, once on the earth and a second time on planet Mars. But, the latter notion defeats the evolutionary theory, because, if life originated in Mars, why has it firmly refused to evolve to higher order of beings? Some other scientists, therefore, pooh-pooh the idea of life originating in Mars and landing on earth from there. Another suggestion is that it originated somewhere deep in space and must have been brought to earth by a comet!

Some scientists maintain that “life is a freak accident of chemistry, unique to earth, and that the subsequent emergence of complex organisms, including conscious beings, is likewise purely the chance outcome of a gigantic cosmic lottery.” (Davies, “Our place in the Universe,” preface). Obviously, the statement is of philosophical nature, rather than scientific.

The above demonstrates the confusion in which the scientists are about the central issue of what life is, and how it arose. Next, the question of how man appeared on earth. This is because, those who could  neither define life nor determine its origin assert that it evolved from the simplest to develop into the complex, the chain ending with humans. In other words, and according to the evolutionary hypothesis, single celled animals gave rise to multiple celled animals, invertebrates to aquatic vertebrates, i.e. fishes, which evolved into amphibians, which gave rise to reptiles. Over a long period of time, some reptiles evolved into birds, while others evolved into mammals culminating in the appearance of man. The theory is simple, catchy and speciously logical. But is it true?

This, of course, is not the place to refute the theory. Volumes have been written to defend it and volumes have been written to refute it. (It is noticeable though, that the more that is written in favor of evolution, the weaker the theory gets). On our part we shall adopt a simpler method to demonstrate that neither could have life emerged accidentally, nor is the theory of evolution a tenable one. For that, we present a few details to demonstrate how complex life is. Complexity rules out chance occurrence.

Humans are made up of limbs and parts: hands, feet, heart, kidney, bones, etc. In the final analysis, the limbs and parts are made of specialized cells. The cells are a microscopic entity, invisible to the eye, made from some two dozen elements only, (although 89 exist in the natural state). A cell wall, thousands of inner machinery (known as organelles, which can also be referred to as different kinds of proteins), a nucleus containing the DNA molecule, (46 chromosomes that carry the genetic code), a nucleolus, (a nucleus within the nucleus, whose functions are not well-understood), are in short the constituents of every cell. The cell is covered with a cell wall (Plasma membrane), with pores through which, sort of chemical gate-passes are required, for in and out flow of material.

Within the cell, commands are issued, material mobilized, manufacturing undertaken, quality tests carried out, and final products transported across to various parts of the cell. The movement of the material along the various pathways of a cell is analogous to the movement of trucks carrying different types of cargo along the various arteries of a city. Several types of transports require definite traffic patterns to ensure that materials destined for different locations are accurately delivered to the appropriate sites. Great advances have been made in the study of these traffic patterns. Vesicles and their protein cargo are directed to their proper destination by specific targeting signals that are carried by the proteins themselves. To imagine the complication, one of the thousands of organelles of an invisible cell is mitochondria. Each organelle has different functions. Mitochondria convert chemical energy into power, and are likened to power houses. Now, there are some 1500 of mitochondria in every cell.

The DNA of every cell consists of 46 double helical strands. Each strand is studded with a tiny molecule called ‘nucleotide base’ that number, altogether, 3 billion. If all the DNA, of all the human cells were stretched out, the string will reach the moon and back 8,000 times. The DNA molecule has been estimated to have information content of around 1,000,000,000,000 (one thousand billion) bits, comparable to about hundred million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica. It is the blue print of life and is contained in each and every one of the 100 trillion cells from which an average human body is made. These blue prints tell everything about a man: from the size of the body, to the color of the eyes, to the diseases he carries, to finally, by implication, even his likes and dislikes. (Some scientists are looking for a gene for intelligence, while others have found a “God Gene”!) It also has the message about where each of the hundred trillion cells will be located in a body. The cells can be likened to bricks of a vast, massively built sky-scraper city. Every brick of every building contains a blue print of the entire city, neatly folded and placed in the center of the brick, containing every little detail thinkable, so that, if the building collapsed, a single brick would be enough to re-build the building, and if the city was destroyed, a single brick would be enough to re-create the information and re-build the city as it was before destruction.

But the similarity is incomplete. A cell has the amazing ability to absorb material, swell in size, and, in a couple of hours or days, split into two: with each of the daughter cells being exact replication of the mother cell, and each of the two daughter cells with the blue print for the whole body within their nucleus! Millions of cells are made in the body each minute. Some take a few hours to be replaced, others a few days, while some longer. In about four months, most of the cells would have been replaced, and a man would be, in chemical sense, a new person.

Thus, the cell is like a chemical industry, which, if humans were to attempt to imitate, would be spread over a few square kilometers. But, this industry of human imitation, will not split into two, replicating all its inner components, functioning independently, doing everything that the mother industry was doing.

The DNA (the blue print) which is sited in the nucleus, is the most amazing part of the system. Operating from within its inner walls, a sort of dark room, well protected from any outside intruder, as no fort was ever protected, it sends commands, and issues virtual blue prints to manufacture various cellular components. It is capable of making thousands of different kinds of proteins, even the while it is busy replicating itself. More strangely, since duplication is a time consuming affair, the long DNA strand can, to cut on time, start duplicating itself at two or more places at the same time, while it is also issuing commands for making proteins or other organelles.

These proteins require 1000-2000 different enzymes for their manufacture. Their structure is so unique, and the complication so great that the famous British scientist Hoyle has estimated that whereas the probability of the chance assembly of a single protein is one in 10160 over 1048 years, the probability of a thousand enzymes coming the right way to form one living cell has the staggering chance of one in 1040,000. Impossible is too weak a word to describe the above in terms of chance.

Proteins in turn are made of amino-acids. A biologist writes: “There is obviously an immense variety of possible amino-acids, but it is a startling fact that only some twenty are found in proteins…” (J. Z. Young, An Introduction to the Study of Man, Oxford, 1979, p. 31). Finally, amino-acids themselves are made from natural elements, and a living body uses only 16 to 24 of the total of a large number available in nature. Young writes, “This is a very small selection, and certainly neither a random one nor one based upon the relative frequency of the elements outside the living world. Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen are, it is true, among the commonest elements of the universe, but they are present on earth in proportions very different from those in living organisms” (An Introduction to the Study of Man, p. 21). The author then proceeds to show that those elements that are abundant on the earth are used sparingly by the living bodies, whereas those that are rare, have been used generously by living organisms, leading to the conclusion that there had been a choice. Chance could not hare played a role in the selection.

What about the DNA? Could it come into existence by itself?

The Encyclopedia Britannica states: “The number of possible ways of putting nucleotides together in a chromosome is enormous. The renowned geneticist H.J. Muller estimated that in a human chromosome there are about 4 x 109 base pairs. Each base pair position could be filled by any one of four possible bases; accordingly, the number of possible varieties of human chromosome is 44×109, an inconceivably large number… Thus a human being is an extraordinary improbable object” (art., ‘Life’).

(Note: the last figure above is 4 to the power of 4 to the power of 109, which the author’s computer is incapable of showing).

Yet, the scientists hang on to the belief that life came into being by itself, only once, some 4 billion years ago. They also assert that because of changed conditions, the feat cannot be repeated. That is, all present life being replication of previous life, new life can never come into existence. Attempts are being made to construct a short DNA strand and insert in a bacteria cell, in an operation called “Creation of Synthetic Life.” Since molecules carry hidden messages in them (in this case stolen from Nature, so to say), and since these molecules are assured the “body” of the bacteria (less its original DNA) in which it will grow, there is good chance of a new species of bacteria coming into existence. The scientists are not sure how this half real, half artificial bacterial will affect other living bodies. They are assuring anyhow, that this monster will not be allowed to escape the labs.

The confusion in which the scientists are, as a result of their intransigence and refusal to acknowledge facts of existence, is well reflected in the following from a leading evolutionist biologists who is talking about one of the most essential enzymes for life. He writes: “The probability of the formation of a Cytochrome-C sequence is as likely as zero. That is, if life requires a certain sequence, it can be said that this has a probability likely to be realized once in the whole universe. Otherwise, some metaphysical powers beyond our definition should have acted in its formation. To accept the latter is not appropriate to the goals of science. We therefore have to look into the first hypothesis.”

Obviously, it is hopeless to change the opinion of blind men fanatically clinging to fanciful ideas. The above details, much simplified and shortened for a general reader, are enough to demonstrate that to rule out a chance creation of life is scientifically the more accurate thing to do. As for the similarities visible in various biological organisms, they in fact, instead of leading to an evolutionary theory, tell us that the Creator used the same primary ideas for His various creations: similar parts, limbs, cells and genetic codes, but different species, each according to the environment (Au.).

[27] And the Jinn – We created them earlier from a scorching fire.28


28. According to the Salaf, the textual “samum” is used for an extremely hot fire. Ibn ‘Abbas said that Iblis was originally a tribe of the larger angel-kind (Ibn Jarir).

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